A DOUBLE STANDARD FOR PNG PUBLIC OFFICIALS

Editorial

The National

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 3, 2010) - We ask you: Why must public funds be spent on educating children of leaders people abroad?

And we also ask you: Why must public funds be spent on treatment for sick leaders and their relatives overseas?

There is nothing wrong with desiring the best for you and your own but you’re your own comprises a greater constituency than just your blood relatives, you just cannot abscond your responsibility to that greater interest for your own petty interests.

You have to work for the greater good, lead from the front and if it means you suffer the misfortunes and hardships of a substandard education and health service, so be it.

That is why you are called to be a leader. Indeed, that is what you tell the multitudes out there each election time.

Remember the standing ovations you received when you beat your chest and said you "felt the pain" and heard "the cries" of the people and pledged to improve their lot.

Well, now you are leader, you got to make good your promise.

There is just no justification when the very people responsible for making policy decisions affecting the health and education welfare of the country would themselves turn away from those very systems and go abroad when they are in need of those services themselves.

It is a disincentive to improving anything in-country when leaders can choose to go elsewhere for their education or medical care.

Leaders would always have a lackadaisical and cavalier attitude towards provision of decent and quality education or medical services so long as they know they or their kindred can seek both of those services abroad in places like Australia, Singapore and the Philippines.

We say that laws must be passed which specifically prohibit those who are paid out of the public purse, in particular State ministers, MPs, constitutional office holders, heads of departments and statutory institutions from sending their children for education abroad – particularly in basic primary and tertiary education as well as all tertiary college education for which courses are offered in-country.

It is all very well for every parent who can afford it to want the best education for his or her child abroad. It is not good enough if such a parent happens to also wield the power to ensure that every other child in this country can afford the same type of education or similar in this nation.

Every MP has that type of power when he or she votes on the budget or when he or she is deliberating laws on the floor of the Parliament. Every State minister has that kind of power when he or she is deliberating executive policies pertaining to health and education in PNG.

Every departmental head and his or her senior managers have that kind of power when they are preparing to implement policies of Government pertaining to delivery of services.

The Works Department and Ministry is as responsible for quality education as the secretary for Education himself because he would have to ensure that the road infrastructure are in shipshape conditions for the delivery of education services.

Every department is interlinked in this way to each other in the great and intricate web of governance in this country.

We all know the great spirit of the free enterprise: There is no greater incentive than personal interest. Vest that interest on-shore and you will see services improve.

We propose that a law be introduced which bars all MPs and other leaders from seeking medical treatment for themselves or their immediate family members abroad except specialist treatment for which there is none present in PNG.

Likewise, we propose that all children of persons holding senior public offices to be educated in PNG institutions. If it is good enough that the tax payers of this country must educate their children here than those whose welfare are catered for by the public purse must do likewise.

PNG can ill-afford to have double standards. If leaders are legally bound to educate or seek medical treatment onshore, there would be far greater incentive to ensure the services of health and education in PNG would improve.

But this is not happening because leaders know they have an escape clause in the unwritten social contract with their people.

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